Although the criteria health officials set last week for most Bay Area counties to lift mask requirements are far from reaching health officials, starting Friday vaccinated people will no longer need them in some indoor settings in San Francisco and Marin counties.
And Contra Costa County plans to join them on Nov. Partial lifting applies to gyms, fitness centers, office settings, employee commuter vehicles, religious gatherings and college classrooms in places with no more than 100 people, where everyone is vaccinated. That means any child under the age of 12 who hasn’t gotten the shot yet—for indoor places with young children—will still have to wear a mask.
“This will allow vaccinated people to feel safe taking off their masks in the office and when they are working out at the gym,” Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said on Thursday. “Of course, people in these places can continue to wear masks if it makes them feel more comfortable.”
The limited loosening of the mask rule was a welcome change for MX3 Fitness owner Glenn Schop of San Francisco.
“It’s definitely beneficial because it’s a lot easier to work the high-intensity stuff without a mask,” Shope said. “It takes the responsibility of gym owners and trainers to enforce a consistent mask protocol, remind people to put a mask on their nose and mouth, reapply it after drinking, hydrating. It also signals to our members that it is safe to be in the gym again.”
The easing of the mask rule comes as most Bay Area counties abstain from reaching the criteria they set last week to allow vaccinated people to leave masks on in most indoor public settings, including grocery and retail stores and restaurants and bars. So to receive. Not eating or drinking.
Under the criteria that nine county health officials agreed upon, indoor masks are required for vaccination three weeks after the county’s COVID-19 transmission rate reached the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s yellow “medium” level. may fall after. At least 80% of the county’s entire population must also be fully vaccinated, and hospitalization rates must be low and stable.
Of the nine Bay Area counties, only Marin appears close to reaching those criteria. It reached the CDC’s moderate transmission rate on Wednesday, putting it on its way to dropping the full indoor mask rule next month if it stays there. Hospitalizations are low and 77.4% of the county population is fully vaccinated, the highest Bay Area rate, the CDC said.
Most other Bay Areas are in the CDC’s orange “adequate” transmission level, while NAPA’s rate remains in the red “high” level. Solano County did not join others in implementing their own indoor mask requirements in August.
San Francisco was the first to announce a partial lifting of the mask requirement on Friday. When asked why Santa Clara County was not planning similar exceptions, Health Officer Dr. Sarah Cody said San Francisco has restaurants, bars, gyms, clubs, large indoor events or others serving food and drink. A vaccine passport is required to enter indoor locations, and Santa Clara County does not.
“We’ve always sought to make the rules as simple as possible, easy for the public to understand, here in Santa Clara County,” Cody said last week.
However, Marin and Contra Costa counties also do not have a vaccine passport rule like San Francisco. But officials in Santa Clara, Alameda, San Mateo and Sonoma counties said Thursday they have no plans to allow mask rule exceptions like in San Francisco, Marin and Contra Costa. Napa County officials did not respond.
Sonoma County spokesman Matt Brown said, “Our case rate and hospitalization rate are very high, and our vaccination rate is just too low to lift the mask mandate, and we are going into a potentially bad winter season. are.”
The indoor mask exception allowed on Friday will not apply in places like restaurants and bars, except when patrons are eating and drinking, even in San Francisco where they require vaccinations to enter. Is. After being criticized for dancing without a mask at a city bar last month, San Francisco Mayor London Breed hit back that she was not going to put her mask back on immediately after taking a sip to satisfy the “fun cops”.
Transmission rates have been falling since August, thanks to a combination of a heat wave of infections driven by the highly contagious Delta version of the virus, increased immunity from vaccination or recovery from COVID-19, and the like to control the spread. took steps to do so. mask rule.
Still, on a statewide basis, the virus remains active. Most US states remain in CDC’s high transmission levels, with only California, Florida, Alabama, Hawaii and Connecticut reaching moderate rates.
In May and June federal and state health officials said vaccination no longer required wearing masks indoors, which proved a premature reopening guidance that failed to address the growing Delta threat. While vaccinees are less likely to become infected, hospitalized, or killed by the virus, the CDC acknowledged over the summer that they can still catch and spread it, and advised those who have: Wearing of masks has been advised where transmission rate is sufficient or high.
California recommended masks for everyone indoors, and eight Bay Area counties placed an order in early August.
Even when local orders fall in place, federal and state regulations allow people to be vaccinated regardless of public transportation, K-12 school buildings, homeless shelters and health care, elderly care, and correctional facilities. Wearing a mask will be required. State orders require unvaccinated people to wear masks in indoor venues, including retail stores, theatres, family entertainment centers and government buildings.